Spicy Tamarind chutney with Medjool dates

  • Preparation time: 1 hour
  • Cooking time: 30 minutes
  • Total time: 1½ hours

Ingredients

  • 225g/8oz tamarind paste
  • 10-12 Medjool dates, seeded and chopped
  • 1½ cup water
  • 2 tbsp. cumin power
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. salt
Spicy Tamarind chutney with Medjool dates

Tamarind comes from the reddish brown, curved seed pods from the tropical tree of the same name. Tamarind pods have a hard shell on the outside, and inside there are several large seeds encased by moist, sticky, dark brown flesh which varies from being very sweet, to very sour.

Tamarind is used in extensively in South and South East Asian cuisine, from curries, through to soups and condiments.

Whilst you can buy pre-prepared tamarind chutney from most good grocery stores, I find that adding Medjool dates improves the taste immeasurably. Medjool dates are very large, very sweet dates originally from Morocco, but are also grown in America, and throughout the Middle East. The tamarind combines with the flesh of the dates to produce a tasty blend of sweet and sour tastes.

Preparation

Tamarind paste is usually bought as condensed blocks. Place the tamarind block in a metal bowl, cover with boiling water, put a plate or lid on top, and let it sit for an hour.

Method

  1. Transfer the tamarind paste into a medium size saucepan and heat over a low heat. Add the water and chopped dates into the saucepan and leave the mixture to simmer for 30 minutes – stirring every few minutes.
  2. Once the tamarind and dates have combined, take the saucepan off the heat.
  3. Take a large bowl and sieve the mixture into it, separating the pulp and seeds, as these are tough and unpleasant to eat. You can discard the pulp and seeds, as you will not need them.
  4. Add the cumin powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and sugar in small amounts – and to taste – to the strained pulp, and mix well.
  5. You can store the tamarind chutney a refrigerated container for at least three months.
Tamarind is the most widely distributed fruit tree of the tropics. It is a slow-growing and long lived massive tree that can grow to 30m/100 feet in height.

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